What Does the Word “Whatever” Mean?

What Does the Word "Whatever" Mean? - Grace Fox

How can we say “Whatever” to God when the going gets tough? Read on to learn what I’ve discovered in the past days and weeks.

The word whatever carries several different meanings.


Visualize a parent and teen talking about a Friday night curfew. The parent says, “Be home by midnight.”

The teen rolls his eyes and says, “Whatever.”

His body language and tone of voice communicate that he could care less about complying.


Now visualize a woman at work in her office. It’s late Thursday afternoon. Stacks of paper cover her desk, and she wonders how she’s going to finish her workload before the weekend.

A coworker walks into the office, sits down, and says, “Hey—would you cover for me at a meeting tomorrow? I just got a call from my daughter’s teacher—she says my kid’s sick and I need to pick her up. Looks like she has the flu, and there’s no way I’ll be able to make that meeting tomorrow.”

The woman scans her desktop, looks at her coworker, shrugs, and says, “Whatever.”

Her response indicates resignation. She feels like she’s drowning in work; adding an unexpected meeting to her load won’t make a difference to her already stressful situation.


Now let’s use our sanctified imaginations and visualize Mary when the angel Gabriel appeared to tell her that she would conceive God’s son.

Her response was this: “I am the Lord’s servant” (Luke 1:38).

In essence, she said, “Whatever.”

Mary’s response was neither sarcastic nor resigned. It was a declaration of surrender to God’s purpose for her life.

“I’m Your servant. I embrace whatever You want to do in me and through me.”

Wow—that’s easy to say when God’s purposes seem to weigh in our favor. But when they’re difficult to understand or they hurt, then having a whatever attitude can be tough.

Yesterday I received an email from a woman in the eastern States. My heart broke as I read about her falling on black ice and severely injuring her left leg. This happened only five days after she completed months of physio on her right knee. I immediately phoned her and prayed with her; I totally understand what she’s going through right now.

Trying to respond with surrender

Neither she nor I understand why God is taking us through similar journeys that limit our mobility and cause sleepless nights, but we’re both trying to cultivate a whatever attitude—a response like Mary’s that says, “We are Your servants. We embrace whatever You want to do in and through us.”

That’s tough, especially when our bodies hurt and a tsunami of exhaustion hammers us every day. But we both realize that it’s vital for us to rise above our circumstances and to allow God to accomplish His good work in and through us. And so, we thank God for His sovereignty and acknowledge our need for His strength, peace, and patience to carry us through.

How about you?

Are you facing something in your life that’s perhaps difficult to understand?

Thank God for His sovereignty and acknowledge your need for Him to carry you. When the going gets tough, remember Mary and say to the Lord, “Whatever You wish—I am Your servant.”

Expressing those words (with no eye rolling) will put your heart and mind in a good place.

Know you are loved,


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